Stocks Ended Mixed as Investors Await Key Earnings

Stocks ended little changed on Monday as investors awaiting earnings from bellwethers such as Apple later in the week. The Dow Jones industrial average dipped 11.66 points, or 0.09 percent, to 12,708.82. The S&P 500 Index edged up 0.62 point, or 0.05 percent, to 1,316.00. The Nasdaq Composite Index shed 2.53 points, or 0.09 percent, to 2,784.17.

Railroad operator CSX Corp. reported late Monday fourth-quarter profit rose 6% to $457 million, or 43 cents a share, from $430 million, or 38 cents a share, a year ago.

The economy probably grew at its fastest pace in a year and a half during the fourth quarter, a key U.S. report is expected to show, but the first three months of 2012 probably won’t be as strong.

Gold futures for February delivery increased $14.30 to settle at a new six-week high $1,678.30 per ounce.  Meanwhile, silver   futures jumped 60 cents to settle at $32.27.  Both precious metals received support from a weaker U.S. dollar and new sanctions placed on Iran.

Crude-oil futures broke a three-day losing streak on Monday as the European Union imposed an import ban on Iranian oil, leading to concerns about supplies. Crude for March delivery gained $1.25, or 1.3%, to end at $99.58 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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